In The Lab with Eric Martinez: How to Determine Your Cardio Training Program

“What’s the best cardio training program?” This is such a loaded question, the best form of cardio-based on our experience and practice is some form of interval training. I define interval training as going a little higher on the heart rate for a few seconds and then back down – it does not mean moving to the maximal effort. 

Cardio should be based on multiple factors. If I were to work with a high-risk patient then the interval would be based upon the restriction and rate of perceived exertion. Take a person with a pacemaker for example. If the pacemaker is set at 120 (beats per minute) max, then my intervals would be 90 BPM on the low end and 110-115 BPM at the high end. This of course is also related to the education and inherent risk the practitioner is willing to take.

On the flip side with athletes with no risk factors, I would want to push them to their maximal heart rate and see where their Lactate Threshold (LT) of Ventilatory Threshold (VT) markers are at as well as the metabolic point of aerobic and anaerobic shift. 

If the maximal BPM is 202 in a 30yr old and the VT is 176 BPM, the metabolic point is 155 BPM. My intervals would then be based on the activity or the preferred adaptations. 

For better adaptation from homeosis, we need to decide to either improve power, speed, endurance, or recovery of anaerobic effort.

For anaerobic recovery I would do 3:0.5 ratio intervals = 155 BPM for 3 min then 30 sec at 170 BPM (just under VT) – followed by slowly REDUCING the recovery period.

If it’s an endurance athlete looking to increase speed then I would select a 3:1 ratio following the same format but slowly ADDING more time when they’re at their higher heart rate; leaning towards anaerobic capacity at 3:1.5 ratio and onwards. 

The reason for this logic is that at a homeosis state the human body needs to adapt. The more conditioned you are, the more we need to push your body to see the full benefits of, increased Heart Rate Reserve, AVO2, Capillary Density, Mitochondria Density (and size), better cardiac output, higher blood plasma…the list goes on. 

For beginners ideally, we don’t need to push them too hard, however, we want to introduce a more challenging anaerobic capacity later in their training to obtain the best benefits. 

Until next time, 
Eric Martinez, Co-Founder and Clinical Performance Specialist

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